If You Have the Time, Give These Albums a Listen and They Just Might Blow Your Mind

If You Have the Time, Give These Albums a Listen and They Just Might Blow Your Mind

Looking for something new to expand your music taste? Here are three albums by some little known artists released in the past year or so that are worth hearing Photo: Pokey LaFarge
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I decided this past week that I wanted to discover some new music like I occasionally do at points. So, I got on my Spotify and man, did I come across some great acts for sure, including some that caught me by surprise. Therefore, to help get these artists name out in the open and persuade you to try some new music as well, I thought I would share with you the albums I listened to from some of the artists I came across this past week and encourage you to check them out for yourselves because in my opinion, they are quite terrific. However, if you find out that they might not be your "cup of tea," that's okay too, because at least you can say that you gave them a try and that's all that counts!

1. William Michael Morgan- "Vinyl"

https://www.amazon.com/Vinyl-William-Michael-Morga...

This up and coming 24-year old country singer from Mississippi released his debut album titled Vinyl back in September of last year and it was really a shame that I never got around to listening to it until these past couple of weeks, because it sure was a dandy. Upon my first listen to this record, I could tell right away that this guy was going in the neo-traditional country sound that rose to popularity from around the mid-1980s to the early 1990s with artists such as Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Brooks and Dunn, The Judds, Garth Brooks (at least his earlier work before he went towards a stadium-rock country style), and possibly the greatest Neo-traditional country artist in my opinion, George Strait, being examples that recorded in this fantastic style of country music. Speaking of George Strait, that was actually the artist that Morgan's smooth baritone voice and overall sound reminded me of the most so I thought that was a plus too. It was really a great listen as a whole because I do miss listening to that great "new traditional" country sound on the radio since current popular artists of the genre today have taken it to a sub-genre called "Bro-country" which incorporates elements of hip hop, hard rock, and EDM (electronic) music, which isn't a sound I'm all that fond of to be honest.

My highlights from this album have to be the heartfelt tearjerker "I Know Who He Is" which has Morgan singing about spending some time with his father who has Alzheimer's disease while he is in the hospital telling the doctor to put away his chart, and allow him to have a "heart to heart" with his father to remember all the great memories they had together. These memories he describes include the times of him being his dad, coach, and friend who loved his wife (Morgan's mother) through the good and bad, while also being the best man that he has ever known. I think where this song hits me the most is in the chorus where Morgan sings, I don't wanna hear "He's goin' downhill"/ What about "Thank God he's around still"/ Lookin' right through me/ Not at all the way I see it/ I don't mind at all rememberin' for him/ He doesn't have to get why I adore him/ He don't have to know me/ I know who he is." It's such an impactful hook that goes to show that you should never take your family members and close friends for granted, and to always remember the good times you had with them throughout your life. Another great song on this record is "Lonesomeville" which is an emotional song about getting over a breakup and trying to adjust to a life without that person around anymore by living in a painful metaphorical city where "it's always raining and the sun don't shine," hence "Lonesomeville." "Beer Drinker" is another favorite of mine because while it isn't the most thoughtfully written and clever song on the album lyrically, it still is a nice ode to those hard working country men who love to crack open a cold one here and there. Lastly, the song that I considered to be the best track on this record was none other than "Missing" which has an outstanding melody with some great guitar playing and lyrics that describe the urge to go out on a journey to get away and disappear from the world you live in, while also clearing your head from the struggles of life.

Overall, while it might not be the greatest country album in the world, I can't praise it enough for it's clever songwriting and Morgan's ability to create some great tunes to the infectious style of country that is Neo-traditional. Along with Morgan, I hope that fellow country artists such as Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, Zac Brown Band, and Sturgill Simpson can continue to bring these different styles of country like Outlaw, Neo-traditional, and Americana back into the mainstream and make them popular as ever. Whether you play this album at home or on a trip down the highway in your Ford pickup, you'll love it either way!

Favorite tracks: "Missing," I Know Who He Is," "Lonesomeville," "Beer Drinker," "Backseat Driver," "Spend it All on You"

Least favorite tracks: "Cheap Cologne," "People Like Me"

Album rating: 4/5

2. Electric Guest- "Plural"

https://www.amazon.com/Plural-Electric-Guest/dp/B0...

Well, I will say that while I do like this record, it was certainly a strange listen at first and it took some time for me to come around to it . This is the second studio album titled Plural by Electric Guest, an indie pop/rock/electronic group from Los Angeles who consist of the members Asa Taccone (who is the younger brother of Jorma Taccone, a member of the comedy music trio The Lonely Island), Matthew Compton, Luke Top, and Reese Richardson. Now, the first thing that was a standout to me while listening to this record was the voice of Taccone, who possesses a very high pitched and androgynous falsetto that could take some getting used to and might not be considered a standout voice for everyone. I myself am actually not a big fan of men who tend to sing with very ear-piercing and high-ranged falsettos because they can be a turn-off for me. However, while his voice has some spotty moments throughout this album, I found myself being drawn to Taccone's unique and unorthodox vocal style and it is impressive to hear what the man can do with his falsetto.

A particular track on this record that I thought was a highlight and showcased Taccone's voice the best was the Caribbean and Reggae inspired "Oh Devil" which contains a catchy synth-line that can get in your head and then all of a sudden, after the synth-line plays by itself for two straight bars, a booming drum and cymbals come in to add some flavor to the track, along with what sound like Shaggy influenced vocals being sung in the background during the chorus. While I think that Taccone's voice shines throughout this entire track, where he really shows off his impressive range is on the second verse where he sings "Oh devil, I'm in my own hell." All in all, this is just a great song to dance and bob your head to. Another song that I thought showed off Taccone's vocals very well was on the opening song "Zero" where it begins with an atmospheric vocal line from Taccone and then a catchy piano melody comes in along with the verses and some slow pounding drums.

The part that makes this song so memorable to me is on the chorus where Taccone's voice soars over the instrumental as he sings "Zero, that's the number that you get from me" because while his voice goes a bit out of tune near the end of that soaring vocal line, it still fits with the song as a whole to me. In my opinion, it is a great track from start to finish. However, as I previously stated, there are a couple spots on this album where Taccone's voice lets me down a bit and the instrumentals fall short. These songs that I am referring to include "Over," which I don't dislike so much for the vocals (even though they weren't anything special to me) or the instrumental in general, but everytime I listened to that song, the melody on the verses reminded me too much of the chorus to the Gorillaz's song "Feel Good Inc," not to mention that the chorus is bland and uninteresting to me with a "Dat da da da" falsetto line throughout the whole hook of the song which in my opinion added nothing notable to it. You can take a listen for yourself and agree or disagree, but to me both of those melodies sound incredibly too similar for me to enjoy it. The other song that I found to have missed the mark on this release was the track "My Omen" which right from the start loses my interest with a synth-line that sounds incredibly flat and out of tune with the acoustic guitar that is playing along with it in the background, as well as with the annoying and inaudible falsetto vocals from Taccone in the background too.

However, despite it's few flaws, I was pleased to have stumbled upon this album by such a talented indie pop/rock/electronic group and I would recommend anyone to give it a listen, even if you might not end up finding it to your liking. I'm looking forward to seeing what else this band has in store for the future!

Favorite tracks: "Zero," "Oh Devil," "Glorious Warrior," "Back and Forth," "Sarah"

Least favorite tracks: "Over," "My Omen"

Album rating: 3.5/5


3. Pokey LaFarge- "Manic Revelations"

http://www.rounder.com/2017/03/pokey-lafarge-manic...

Boy was I happy to stumble across this American folk and roots artist from Illinois! I mean his stage name is Pokey LaFarge, how does that alone not tell you that this guy is a real gem? In my opinion, if you call yourself by a strange, silly, and unique name such as "Pokey," you must be a pretty bad-ass talented artist, and bad-ass talented he is! LaFarge, born Andrew Heissler, released his eighth studio album this year, titled Manic Revelation, and it is is packed with songs that have influences from the sounds of the boogie-woogie blues, electric blues and doo-wop during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as the folk, roots and singer-songwriter styles of the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the instruments that you can find on this record are bombastic trumpets, groovy, tight, and walking bass-lines, lively and head bobbing drums, catchy electric guitar riffs, ear-worming harmonicas, along with some background vocals that work with LaFarge's voice to create beautiful harmonies throughout. I would describe his voice as a high baritone with a bit of a southern twang to it, similar to artists such as Hank Williams Sr., James Taylor, Pete Seeger, David Crosby, Buddy Holly, and especially Jim Croce, who is the artist I would compare his vocal style to the most.

Along with the versatile, catchy, and fantastic instrumentation, the lyrics are very well written and provide compelling stories and themes throughout as many of them involve struggles and pleasures of trying to find love in the songs "Must Be a Reason," "Better Man Than Me," "Bad Dreams," "Mother Nature," "I Will Never Change," and the fun, cute tune "Good Luck Charm." Other lyrical themes LaFarge addresses on this album include problems going on across the world, including in the media, on the tracks "Riot in the Streets" and "Silent Movie," and taking journeys to different parts of the world on the tunes "Wellington" and "Going to the Country."

Pretty much every track on this album was absolutely flawless in my opinion, but the ones that stood out to me the most were "Riot in the Streets," "Going to the Country," "Good Luck Charm," and my absolute favorite off this release, "Silent Movie." I can't stress to you how much I would like to this guy get the attention he deserves because while he has a decent following in the United States and around other parts of the world, I would love to see his name get bigger and bigger. However, sometimes being a small act is better than being "big" and getting all the attention, so who knows what'll happen throughout the rest of his sure to be outstanding music career. All I have to say is thank the Lord that this fantastic folk singer has seven other albums because that will hopefully make me even more engaged in his music and come to know what he's all about.

Also, just an additional point, one of the other reasons I seemed to find this man to be interesting was by the way he dressed, specifically the fact that he wears fedoras. So, if you know me, there are two things that make me love musicians, their overall sound and the style of fashion that goes with their musicality, and by God, Pokey LaFarge's style is off the charts. He's a slick looking dude! I encourage you to listen to all three of these acts, but this guy in particular is the one you NEED to check out first if I were you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!

Favorite tracks: "Riot in the Streets," "Must Be a Reason," "Better Man Than Me", "Bad Dreams," "Silent Movie," "Good Luck Charm," "Going to the Country," "Wellington," "I Will Never Change"

Least favorite track: "Mother Nature"

Album rating: 4.5/5


Cover Image Credit: The Blues Mobile

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Picture-perfect Songs For Your Summer Playlist

Feel good songs for any mood this summer.

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Summer is full of long days and even longer nights with those who you would call your closest friends. The best way to capture and to create memories is with a song everyone connects with. Each and every one of us should make our own summer playlist that reminds us of how to enjoy life during the best season of the year.

A song can fit the scene of any mood. Specifically, one for the road trips to endless locations with your girl gang or laid-back tunes when you're laying next to poolside. There is a song for any moment. Even those late nights when you wish that special someone could be right next to you remembering that instance.

If you're in need of desperate help on how to correctly jam out this summer and it makes it the best one yet, well here are my go-to's.

These songs will indeed catch everyone's attention. Especially, these 8 songs. I don't know about you, but I feel like everyone knows the lyrics to these songs and it makes everyone's night 10 times better. I mean talk about some classics; you can't go wrong with these.

  • Tongue Tied by GroupLove
  • Kill The Lights by Alex Newell
  • Electric Feel by MGMT
  • Body by Luxury
  • Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi
    • Preferably the extended Steve Aoki remix.
  • Mr. Brightside by The Killers
  • UCLA by RL Grime
  • Lucy By Bryce Fox
    • Spotify doesn't have the Ryan Dominic remix, but YouTube does! So, try it out because the original is way too slow and the remix just tops it.

Here are some other songs to play when you are surrounded by your loving yet crazy squad of girls. These next ones will definitely make your friends go wild.

  • Juice by Lizzo
    • You can't go wrong with any song made by her, she carries her music with such a feminist taste.
  • I Wish I Missed My Ex by Mahalia
  • Go To Town by Doja Cat
  • Bad Guy by Billie Eilish
    • Every girl's inner dark side will come out once this turns on.
  • Boo'd Up by Ella Mai

Summer is the best time to play country music in my eyes. It's the only season that seems fitting since every song is about fishing, cold ones, dirt roads and girls in sundresses. Let's be real does anyone ever drop their tailgate and have a party in a hay field? I'm from Iowa and all it is is garage parties or bonfires. So, if you do hit me up because I would love to experience a moment like the country music videos.

  • Get Along by Kenny Chesney
  • Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
  • Tequila by Dan + Shay
  • GIRL by Maren Morris
  • Beautiful Crazy by Luke Combs
  • Look What God Gave Her by Thomas Rhett

There are certain types of songs that everyone just can't get away from. They make you want to let loose with your friends and rap a few verses. There is a feeling of young and free while it lasts.

  • Elastic by Joey Purp
  • Earfquake by Tyler, The Creator
  • Groceries by Chance the Rapper
  • Star by Bazzi
  • I've Been Waiting For by Lil Peep
  • Twenty One by Khalid
  • Flat Champagne by Dan Caplen

Lately, I've been on an EDM kick for some odd reason, but I thought I should share some that I really enjoy listening to.

  • Good Nights by Whethan
  • It's Strange by Louis The Child
  • Making Luv To The Beat by WATCH THE DUCK
  • Love on Me by Galantis
  • Weekend by Louis The Child
  • Tell Me You Love Me by Galantis
  • In My Mind by Dynoro

Then there are some songs essential for those chill vibes. They will fit the mood when you're trying to relax at the moment or when you are thinking about those you really wish you could be with at the time.

  • In My Head by Odie
  • Vibe by MELVV
  • Goodie Bag by Still Woozy
  • Basement Jack by Steve Lacy
  • Princess Bubblegum by Haroinfather
  • Are You Bored Yet? by Wallows

Hopefully, these different genres of music choices have inspired you. Now go enjoy your summer playlist with those who are your favorites. Just remember to keep adding because there is always new singles or albums midsummer.

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